Most lawyers I know have at least one thing in common. No matter their practice areas, or the size of their firm, or their work setting, they all wish they had more time. More time to live, to work, to spend with family, to exercise and on and on and on.
Think of all the things you’d like to do if you just had more time.
Give yourself the gift of more time this holiday season. With these five ideas, you can create more time in your life to do some of those things you’d do with more time. Perhaps you will even have time to achieve your New Year’s resolutions!
1. Detox Your Contacts
Assess whether the people in your life make it more difficult to have the life and practice you want. Do they take more than their share of your resources — late-night calls, impossible to please, extreme lateness, repeated last-minute cancellations, or constant “fire drills”? Think about what your practice would be like without those clients. How could you use those same resources to improve your life, your time, your services to other clients? It might be worth it to end a personal or client relationship to better use your resources for yourself and other clients who do not monopolize your time and energy or compromise your sanity.
2. Hire Someone to Take on Tasks
Are you trying to do it all yourself? Or maybe you are handling too many aspects of your business life or personal life? Assess the tasks that are never completed on time. See if there are any items that remain on your to-do list for months. These could be work-related or personal tasks. Maybe you need to hire a bookkeeper or a paralegal so you can focus on building your book of business. Perhaps having someone else clean your house, do the laundry and buy groceries could free up four hours a week you can spend with friends or family, or working out.
Also, consider services. Would it be helpful to have a meal delivery service every other week? Would an on-demand errand or handyman service allow those mundane tasks to be completed with only a simple email or phone call from you? Think of any tasks you dread or are not good at doing, and consider ways to have someone else do them.
3. Invest in Five Minutes of Calm Each Day
We all have lots of obligations and responsibilities competing for our limited time. I often say, “Obligations seem infinite, while time is finite.” One of the best ways to handle all that we must do is with effective mind management tools, in particular mindfulness, meditation and relaxation techniques. While these tools do not create more time, they ensure we move through our days less frazzled and feeling less rushed.
Download an app for your phone and commit to spending five minutes a day investing in a calming technique. There are many apps, including Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer, to name a few. Figure out what works best for you in terms of technique, time of day and the length of time each day.
4. Bag, Barter, and Better Tasks
This is one of my favorite ways to create more time. Ask yourself “The 3 B’s.” Here’s how it works. When you think about all the things you want and need to accomplish, ask yourself this question: Can you “Bag It” or “Barter It” or “Better It”?
Bagging a task means you don’t do it. No one does it. There are consequences, but if you’re OK with those consequences, you can “bag” the task and use that time for something else.
Bartering a task means you have someone else do it. This is straight-up delegating. While proper bartering does not include payment of money for services, in this case, include that option. If you can pay someone to do anything, or take turns with someone, or even buy a product, to keep the benefit but not spend the time, then you are bartering.
Bettering is finding a more efficient or enjoyable way to do a task that you must do yourself. While this does not give you more time, it improves the quality of your time.
5. Organize Your Time and Space
One of my favorite quotes about organization comes from the creator of Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne: “Organizing is what you do before you do something so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” When you are organized, you don’t waste time and energy trying to find whatever you need to be successful. Rather, your resources are readily available to you.
The best ways to organize your physical space are to reduce your “stuff” so there is no clutter, find a place for everything, and always put it there.
To organize your time, find a calendaring system that works for you and put everything on the calendar: personal and professional. You could go analog with a desk calendar. You could use your Outlook calendar tied to your email. Or you can do what I do, which is use Google calendars so that I can also use it to delegate tasks to others with whom I share my calendars. Whatever works for you is what you should do. Experiment with a few different options until you find the one that works.
Now when you say, “I just wish I had more time,” you can take action to create that time for yourself this holiday season!
Happy holidays to you and yours!
More From Attorney at Work:
Have You Read Jamie Spannhake’s Bestselling Book?
In “The Lawyer, the Lion, and the Laundry: Three Hours to Finding Your Calm in the Chaos,” lawyer and certified health coach Jamie Spannhake helps you learn how to CHOOSE, ACT and THINK in ways that will clarify your desires and set priorities so you can reclaim your time and enjoy your life.
Available in the Attorney at Work bookstore, here.